Fumbling Toward Storytown

You should walk towards yourself as a writer, not away.
Chuck Wendig

Writer Friends: What are you working on right now?

Me: :shifty eyes: Um, :mumble mumble: New historical :mumble mumble: Georgian. :mumble mumble: Something about a love triangle. :mumble mumble: Canada.  :mumble mumble: Hey, look, a kitty.

Even if there’s no kitty. Really, all I want is to change the subject. Current Project doesn’t want to be talked about yet. Odd for me, since extrovert me really does want to talk to Everybody about pretty much All The Things, though I’ve tried really really hard to hold myself back on that. Sometimes too much. There has to be a happy medium, and sometimes it’s tricky to find. On the other hand, there is such a thing as talking too much about a story, so much so that A) It’s all talked out and now no longer needs to be written, and/or B) there’s so much input from so many different sources that outside voices drown out the voices of the characters. In either event, nothing gets done, and the characters sit around in the author’s brain, all crabby because they were all set to have this awesome adventure and now nobody’s doing anything and what are they even here for?

Imagine various couples dressed in garb from various historical eras, drumming their fingers on various tables, sighing loudly and looking out the windows because they are sooooo booooored. Not with being historical people (except for Anthony and Christine, whom I tried to shove into a Regency setting where neither they nor I are at all  happy, because Regency sells, but my heart wasn’t in it. We’ll give this a rest and try again in a different era when they are speaking to me again.) or with being couples, but with being stuck in stories that weren’t working because I was so determined to do things the way they “should” be done that I couldn’t have shipwrecked them worse if I tried.

Can they be rescued? Sure, most of them. We need some time to let the dust settle, these would-be books and I. Others will shake hands (or bow and curtsy as the case may be) and go our separate ways, glad to have been in each other’s lives for the good times we had. Time plus distance equals perspective, and taking a step back from a story-that-won’t is often the key to making it into a story-that-will, and eventually a story-that-did.

The story I’d thought I could maybe possibly have done and dusted, at least to the halfway mark, if I did do NaNo merely laughed at me. It didn’t want to be plotted with charts or GMC’d into marching order. No, these two have banded together and want to play with me. They’ll tell me this much, but I have to figure out this other thing before they’ll say anything else, but when I do, they have something special for me. I haven’t had a hero and heroine do this to me before, but that’s kind of the whole point, having those characters find me while I’m still wandering around in the woods at night, bumping into trees and getting my foot caught in decayed logs. One of them will help me sit on some boulder I never noticed before and the other one will calmly disengage my foot from the rotted log, chase off whatever wildlife was inside said log (because there usually is) and then we’ll have a talk. They’ll tell me their story and I will write it down.

Because that’s what it’s all about for me. The hero, the heroine, their story. All the rest, word counts and GMC and plot and historical versimilitude (far better than historical accuracy, but that’s another post altogether) and character charts and all the rest, those come secondary. Listening to too many voices has resulted in the past with me stomping about in the woods at night, during a rainstorm, with both feet in rotten logs and a bucket stuck in my head, and I’m over all that, thankyouverymuch. Here’s this couple (even when they unite to make me their plaything, but I’m not minding much, really; it’s fun for me, too.) and here’s me and we’re going on an adventure. Feels about right.

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4 thoughts on “Fumbling Toward Storytown

  1. I totally get this! My current project is a historical novel too and I got stuck on it about mid NaNo. I had too much research, too much worry about accuracy, too many thoughts about arcs and plotpoints in my head. It’s time to return the research books to the library and let the characters tell me the story.

    • All too easy to fall into that, isn’t it? Research and plotting and such can be good, but if it gets in the way of telling the story, or stifles the characters, taking a step back from all of that may be in order.

      Always good to meet another historical writer. What eras do you write in?

      • This is my first dip into historical fiction. The story takes place in the viking era, roughly around 860 CE (? AD? I can never remember.)
        Coincidentally, the library called today that they needed the books back and I was actually glad to let them go. I will get them again in the new year, maybe after the first draft is done. Until then, I’m just gonna tell the story, regardless of accuracy.

  2. Lots of stuff going on in the Viking era, always fascinating. I can never remember CE or AD either.

    Funny how that works sometimes, the library wanting their books back at this particular time. I think it’s a smart decision to just tell the story. Tell it until it’s told, and then anything that needs tweaking for accuracy…that’s what second passes and editing are for.

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